We’ve heard it all before, rather than becoming people-parents millennials are becoming pet-parents. Now, there’s even a #PlantParent phenomenon. But who can blame them?
Why Pet Parents?
The cost of buying a home is unfathomable. Hook-up culture means marriages are happening waaayyyy later. Let’s not forget that millennials are saddled with crippling student loans and credit card debt while being drastically underpaid, especially in comparison to inflation. With this disruption in normal adult timelines, it makes sense that millennials are forging their own paths and prioritizing things like mental health and pets before rushing to settle down on such uncertain ground.
Although some Boomer financial advisers — you know the kind that admonishes those who dare to buy espresso drinks when they should drink homemade coffee in their kitchen — warn that pets are frivolous expenses that should wait until you can afford to settle into a more traditional life, millennials disagree. Dogs or Cats aren’t mere accessories that signal conspicuous consumption, they’re companions and they’re crucial to many people’s mental health.
According to Newport Academy, having a pet has psychological benefits proven to reduce stress. The studies found that “interacting with a friendly dog reduces levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. And it increases the release of oxytocin—another chemical in the body that reduces stress naturally. That’s why animal-assisted therapy is so powerful.”
Just the act of stroking an animal has incredible benefits for our overall mental health and development. “The sensory act of stroking a pet lowers blood pressure. Therefore, it reduces stress. Consequently, studies have shown that dogs can help calm hyperactive or aggressive children.”
Though dogs might get all the love, really any animal can help reduce anxiety and promote positive feelings. “In one study, a group of stressed-out adults was told to pet a rabbit, a turtle, or a toy. Touching the toy didn’t have any effects. However, stroking the rabbit or turtle relieved anxiety. In addition, even people who didn’t particularly like animals experienced the benefits.”
And what are any of us, if not a group of stressed-out adults? As the world continues to lob surprises at us, with each day playing out like the apocalypse, life is super-super-super stressful. The pandemic and its variants, the political landscape here and abroad, the looming threat of global warming — if we weren’t stressed, I’d be stressed about that.
So, can’t we indulge in the little things? Can’t young people guiltlessly enjoy their creature comforts, literally? If the science supports the notion that pets can play an essential part of many people’s lifestyles, shouldn’t we update our sensibilities to align with this shift?
The Pandemic Pet Boom
During the pandemic, more and more people hopped on board. The pandemic pet phenomenon was a handy antidote to the loneliness of lockdown and the stress of uncertainty.
Despite reports of “pandemic pet panic,” which claimed all the adopted dogs were being returned in droves, the truth is actually far less bleak. Most people kept their pets, and shelters are in a much better place than they were before the pandemic. According to AmericanPetsAlive.org, “The data shows intakes—the number of animals entering shelters—are still sharply down from where they were before the pandemic, while the adoption rate is up. Nearly 90 percent of animals entering U.S. shelters are leaving alive, up from before the pandemic.”
The New York Times corroborated this claim, saying that these alarmist headlines were misleading and people were happier than ever with their pandemic animals. The NYTs reported that: “in a survey of 1,000 American cat and dog owners conducted for Rover.com, a pet services website, 93 percent said their “pandemic pet” had improved their mental or physical well-being over the last year and more than 80 percent said it made working from home more enjoyable.”
And isn’t that what we do it for? Anything to get through the day.
Budgeting for Pets
For all they do for us, don’t our pets deserve some spoiling? Splurging on a pet is better than throwing it away on shallow attempts to increase your happiness. After all, pets have been proven to improve mental health and impulse shopping has been proven to do the same.
So, yes, by all means, splurge on your pet — but don’t go into debt doing so. The distinction is in the choices you make. Rather than compulsively buying every pet product you see on your Instagram feed, choose high-quality goods that come at affordable prices. Don’t get caught in the trap of inflating prices — spend smarter, not more.
According to CNBC. “Rising costs and inflation are a growing concern for Americans, affecting everyday expenses like groceries, gasoline, and housing. Pet parents are also feeling the sting, according to the report analyzing data from more than 1,000 U.S. dog owners. More than 70% of pet parents have spent more on food, treats, toys and veterinary visits, and 73% worry about prices continuing to grow, the report found.”
“Like most consumer goods and services across the globe, the cost of many pet products has increased in the past year,” said Kate Jaffe, a trend expert at Rover to CNBC. “Despite these rising costs, Americans are still splurging like never before for their beloved pets … For example, nutritious and fresh-ingredient food is a popular splurge item, the report shows, with the majority of pet owners willing to spend extra. Personalized services, such as dog walking and sitting, particularly for city-dwellers, is also a priority for pet parents. Many are willing to pay extra for “green” products, like biodegradable poop bags, and some will shell out for smart pet tech devices…” These findings may suggest pets and their well-being “aren’t discretionary expenses, but rather part of the mandatory family budget,” Jaffe said.
Try Boxdog & Boxcat
A pet-spending line item in your budget is integral to being a modern, financially savvy adult. One of the best ways to make sure your budget is on track is to regularize your spending. Just like meal kits and makeup subscriptions have become a commonplace way to spend on yourself in a budget-friendly way, pet subscription boxes are the new frontier.
With a subscription to Boxdog & Boxcat, your pet will be appropriately spoiled without breaking the bank. Boxdog & Boxcat curate and pack their subscription boxes with only the best quality items for your furry friend. With a few clicks, their simple process allows you to fill your first monthly box with canine dog treats, toys, and gear.
Each dog box contains homemade treats, vegan skincare, dog gear, and dog toys. You can customize your box each month with free shipping on all regular-priced boxes. Right now, with the Spring box launch, you can get a free box with code PACK.